🇬🇧    English    |   🇵🇸    عربي

The United Nations and apartheid South Africa – by Na’eem Jeenah

The United Nations and apartheid South Africa


International solidarity with South Africans struggling against apartheid and international isolation of the apartheid state both formed a crucial pillar in the country’s struggle for liberation and democracy. The Anti-Apartheid Movement eventually became the largest solidarity movement in the world and the largest civil society campaign of the twentieth century, with structures or activities in most countries. It operated alongside a range of actions by – mostly Global South – governments and intergovernmental organisations. This brief examines the role of the United Nations, and its Special Committee Against Apartheid in particular, in this struggle. In its three-decade existence, the Special Committee drove a number of initiatives in the UN to isolate apartheid South Africa, and worked closely with UN member states and civil society in pursuit of this agenda. This brief shows that the Special Committee pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for the UN, and recommended positions and actions to the UN General Assembly that had not previously been heard of. The Centre Against Apartheid was established in January 1976 as part of the UN secretariat to support and facilitate the Special Committee’s work.  In examining the pronouncements and actions of the UN, we notice an incremental ratcheting up of pressure on South Africa over four decades, and also see how initially obstructive countries were ultimately forced to compromise.


UN and apartheid before the Special Committee

UN discussion about and actions against South African apartheid began, albeit indirectly, 16 years before the Special Committee was set up, in June 1946, during the first session of the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) when the Indian government asked for an agenda item to be included about the ‘Treatment of Indians in the Union of South Africa’.[1] The issue was debated in December, and the Indian delegation was advised by, among others, a delegation from the South African liberation organisation, the African National Congress (ANC). The phrasing of the Indian discussion request in July 1948 made it clear that its concern extended beyond the treatment of Indians in South Africa. It warned that ‘[i]f the belief that there is to be one standard of treatment for the White races and another for the non-White continues to gain strength among the latter, the future for solidarity among the Members of the United Nations and, consequently, for world peace, will indeed be dark’.

In 1950, the UNGA declared that ‘a policy of “racial segregation” (apartheid) is necessarily based on doctrines of racial discrimination’.[2]

A separate request was made to the GA in September 1952, when 13 African and Asian member states requested a discussion on ‘the question of race conflict in South Africa resulting from the policies of apartheid’. The UNGA responded by establishing the three-member United Nations Commission on the Racial Situation in the Union of South Africa (UNCORS).[3] The Commission submitted three detailed reports before its mandate was terminated in 1955. The first report warned that ‘[s]oon any solution will be precluded and the only way out will be through violence’,[4] the second proposed ways to alleviate the difficulties of Africans in South Africa, and recognised that while equal economic opportunities for all were important, ‘steps to achieve political equality… are of prime importance’.[5] A substantial part of its third report, published in 1955, focused on the Congress of the People gathering held in Kliptown in Johannesburg, which produced the Freedom Charter.[6]

Pressure on South Africa increased until, in 1956, it downgraded its UN delegation to token representation in protest against what it viewed as UNGA interference in its internal affairs (it returned to full representation in 1958).


Sharpeville massacre

The Sharpeville massacre in 1960 was a turning point in UN responses to South Africa and also in the South African struggle. On 21 March 1960, a few thousand people marched on the police station in Sharpeville, south of Johannesburg, to hand themselves over for arrest after refusing to carry their ‘passes’, the identity documents that monitored and controlled the movement and employment of African men. Police opened fire and 69 people were killed, providing the most important impetus for the ANC’s and PAC’s (Pan-Africanist Congress) adoption of the armed struggle.[7] Some states that had previously supported South Africa in the UN, such as the UK, began to be a little more critical.

This year also produced the first UNSC (United Nations Security Council) debate and resolution on South Africa. The resolution deplored ‘the policies and actions’ of the South African government, and called on it to ‘initiate measures aimed at bringing about racial harmony’.[8] In every subsequent year, a number of UNGA resolutions were passed that criticised South Africa’s apartheid practices. In 1961, the Assembly reaffirmed that South Africa’s ‘racial policies’ were ‘a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are totally inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations as a Member State.’ It urged states to take ‘separate and collective action… to bring about an abandonment of those policies.’[9]

A further resolution (1761), which was adopted in 1962,[10] called on member states to take measures to ‘bring about the abandonment of South Africa’s apartheid policies’. These included: breaking off diplomatic relations with South Africa; closing their ports to vessels flying the South African flag; prohibiting their ships from entering South African ports; boycotting South African goods and refraining from exporting goods, including arms and ammunition, to South Africa; and refusing landing and passage facilities to aircraft that belonged to the South African government and companies registered under South African laws.

A number of African and Asian member states responded to the resolution by breaking off diplomatic, trade and other relations with South Africa, and South African Airways flights were prohibited from using the airspace of most African countries.


Special Committee Against Apartheid

Resolution 1761 also established the ‘Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa’ to ‘keep the racial policies of the South African government under review when the Assembly was not in session’. In 1971, the Committee’s name was changed to ‘Special Committee on Apartheid’, and three years later to ‘Special Committee Against Apartheid’. It was clear from the outset that the Committee’s scope would be restricted to South Africa.

It was quick off the starting blocks. A month after its first meeting in April 1963, it submitted an interim report that recommended the UNSC regard the South African situation as a threat to international peace under Chapter VII of the UN Charter; if accepted, this recommendation would have mandated action by member states. The report was immediately endorsed by independent African states.

In July 1963, the Committee submitted its second interim report, recommending an arms embargo as the ‘first and most urgent step to deal with the situation’, and pointing to the expansion of the South African army and police forces.[11] Two months later, the Committee submitted a detailed situation report of South Africa, the first of many such annual reports.[12]

After the publication of the Committee’s Second Interim Report, the campaign for sanctions against South Africa received a boost in 1963 when the UNSC called on all member states ‘to cease forthwith the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition of all types and military vehicles to South Africa’.[13] While the meeting was in session, the US Kennedy administration announced an arms embargo on South Africa. In December 1963, and in response to UNGA Resolution 1761, the UNSC called on member states to cease ‘the sale and shipment of equipment and materials for the manufacture and maintenance of arms and ammunition in South Africa’. It also requested that the Secretary-General establish a group of ‘recognized experts’ to examine ways to resolve the South African situation.

The Special Committee acted quickly and effectively, and, for the next three decades, drove the UN position on apartheid South Africa, and was also at the forefront of actions against it. The absence of western state representatives allowed the Committee to make rapid decisions, take quick action, and gave it the latitude to expand its work to civil society and support the global anti-apartheid movement.

The Committee lobbied the UNGA and UNSC[14] to adopt resolutions on South African political prisoners,[15] the repression of Black activists, death sentences for political activists, the Rivonia Treason Trial[16] (which took place in 1964) and other matters.[17] The Group of Experts established  by the Secretary-General in 1963 recommended that the UN should direct its efforts to establishing a National Convention that represented all South Africans, and should apply economic sanctions if the South African government failed to cooperate.[18] South Africa remained intransigent and, days after the adoption of UNSC Resolution 190 that called for an amnesty for the Rivonia defendants, imposed sentences of life imprisonment on eight of them.

The Committee recognised the lack of enthusiasm for opposing apartheid within the Security Council, where non-elected western members – the US, the UK and France – had undermined strong resolutions on the issue. It therefore focused on the UNGA – which had no veto-holding members – and work it could do itself. This included exposing governments and multinational corporations that supported the apartheid state.

But the UN did not restrict itself to condemnation and demands. The UNGA agreed on a three-pronged strategy to end apartheid in South Africa that involved pressurising South Africa to end repression, abandon its apartheid policies and system and negotiate with the people’s representatives to find a peaceful solution; assisting apartheid victims and anti-apartheid activists; and disseminating information about apartheid across the globe. In each respect, the Committee played a central role. However, member states differed on what to do about apartheid. Many western countries were trading partners of South Africa, for example, and strongly opposed sanctions and sought to continue their relationships with the apartheid state, resulting in a growing South African economy and increasing disregard by South Africa of UN resolutions and actions, much to the frustration of the Special Committee and states that supported its work.[19]

The Committee committed itself to a number of tasks, including encouraging the activities of anti-apartheid and other organisations that sought to pressurise western governments. This was unusual for a UN committee because these governments could regard this as interference in their internal affairs. The Committee also attempted to isolate the larger western powers that supported South Africa by winning the support of smaller western states such as Sweden and Denmark.

It also focused on supporting families of political prisoners and raised funds from member states that were then channelled to the Defence and Aid Fund for South Africa, the World Council of Churches, Amnesty International and the Joint Committee on the High Commission Territories. The Committee also successfully lobbied the UNGA to establish the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa, which used voluntary donations to finance political prisoners’ legal defence, maintain the families of activists persecuted by the government, educate prisoners and dependants and assist South African refugees. The Committee regularly reported on arrests and convictions and also publicised the ill-treatment of political prisoners.


The International Campaign Against Apartheid

In 1966, the Committee recommended to the UNGA that it should launch an ‘international campaign against apartheid’, which included intensifying efforts to obtain agreement on sanctions, boycotts of South Africa and South African goods and support for anti-apartheid groups. The Committee persistently maintained that ‘the total isolation of South Africa should be the immediate and imperative target’ as Joseph N Garba, the-then chairperson of the Committee, made clear in 1987.[20] The Committee then sought to build a broad coalition of governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations for this purpose.

It was crucial that the campaign acknowledged that South Africans would play the central role in their liberation, and that the international community would essentially support their struggle. This was emphasised by Achkar Marof, the-then-chairperson of the Special Committee, in 1967, when he said ‘[t]he struggle for freedom in South Africa is certainly the right, the responsibility and the privilege of the people of South Africa.’ He added: ‘Whatever we do at the international level – whether as governments or in anti-apartheid movements and other popular organisations – we need to recognise in all humility that our role is but secondary. We do not aspire to liberate… but to assist the liberation.’

Despite being intergovernmental in character, the Committee, from its inception, consulted with NGOs, civil society groups, sections of the South African liberation movement (especially the ANC) and the global anti-apartheid movement. Members of these groups even served as functionaries at the conferences the Committee organised, which was a first for a UN structure,[21] and their contributions also influenced the Committee’s reports.

After the essentials of the international campaign were established, the UN encouraged member states and civil society to work to isolate apartheid South Africa. This took a dramatic turn in 1973 when the UNGA declared that the South African government had ‘no right to represent the people of South Africa’ and instead recognised the ANC and PAC as ‘the authentic representatives of the overwhelming majority’ of South Africans.[22]

Six years previously, the tone of some of the Committee’s documents had already begun to sound more militant, as a speech by Marof demonstrated. He said: ‘We can no more speak in the UN, as was done before, of persuading the South African regime to abandon apartheid… That has proved to be impossible. We need to encourage world opinion to support democratic changes in South Africa… by a revolutionary process.’[23]

From 1970, as Enuga Reddy observes, the Special Committee recommended numerous draft resolutions for each UNGA session that addressed different aspects of apartheid.[24] Various resolutions (on the release of political prisoners, the UN Trust Fund for South Africa, denunciation of bantustans, dissemination of information on apartheid, and women and children under apartheid) ‘received unanimous support’ and other resolutions (on an arms embargo and sports and cultural boycotts) were ‘adopted by overwhelming majorities’. The Committee sought to generate broad global support for the campaign by sponsoring or assisting conferences of trade unionists, women, students, youth and parliamentarians, along with regional conferences of governments and organisations in Asia, Latin America, Arab countries and North America.

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid[25] was a significant measure adopted by the UNGA in 1973 that was, in the words of John Dugard, ‘the ultimate step in the condemnation of apartheid as it not only declared that apartheid was unlawful because it violated the Charter of the United Nations, but in addition it declared apartheid to be criminal’.[26] It also made it clear that apartheid was not a crime restricted to South Africa but could potentially occur anywhere in the world.

In March 1974, the Committee went still further when It invited the ANC and PAC to attend its meetings; both were also later invited to participate in working group meetings that prepared proposals for the Committee. Later in the same year, the UNGA recommended to the UNSC that South Africa should be immediately expelled from the UN, a proposal that was vetoed by the UK, France and US. But the UNGA subsequently refused to accept the credentials of the South African delegation and refused to allow it to participate in the Assembly’s work. Various other UN bodies then excluded South African delegations.


Soweto, 16 June 1976

The 16 June 1976 Soweto massacre by South African security forces was a hugely significant turning point in UN and international attitudes towards South Africa. The massacre followed demonstrations that had begun in the township of Soweto outside Johannesburg, when between 10,000 and 20,000 school students marched to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in African schools. Estimates suggested that between 170 and 700 protestors were subsequently killed by South African security forces.[27] The UNSC unanimously condemned the South African government for its ‘resort to massive violence against and killings of the African people including schoolchildren and students’, and recognised ‘the legitimacy of the struggle of the South African people for the elimination of apartheid’. Norway and Sweden responded to the massacre by halting new investments in South Africa. Sweden sponsored a UNGA resolution, which was annually repeated, that called on the UNSC to consider steps to halt future foreign investments in South Africa. The Committee encouraged ‘people’s sanctions’ – pressure on multinational companies and banks to disinvest from South Africa – and called on governments to impose sanctions.

In 1976, the UNGA condemned the ‘independence’ of the Transkei bantustan and called on governments not to recognise any bantustans created by the apartheid state; in 1977, 1979 and 1989, it accordingly condemned the (respective) independence declarations of Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei. The South African liberation movement and much of the international community referred to these arrangements as ‘bantustans’, while the South African government instead described them as ‘homelands’ or ‘independent states’. These were certain (mostly rural) areas assigned to different African ethno-linguistic groups. The bantustan plan was the central element of ‘Grand Apartheid’ that sought to assign all Africans in South Africa as citizens of some or other bantustan, while depriving them of any rights within the ‘Republic of South Africa’ and establishing reserve pools of labour that would benefit the South African economy. The ultimate goal was for citizens of the Republic of South Africa to be White (even though the majority of its residents were African), with a sprinkling of ‘Indians’ and ‘Coloureds’. In reality, the ‘independent states’ were designed to be almost entirely dependent on the South African state, which would largely finance them and train their security forces. These ‘states’ had no real borders of their own, and their inhabitants would only be able to access ports or airports by transiting through South Africa. It is sobering to reflect that the four flagship bantustans (the so-called TBVC states – Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei) had more power and independence from South Africa than the ‘State of Palestine’ has from Israel, even though it is recognised as a state by the UN and the TBVC states never were.

On 1 November 1977, the UNSC, citing Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously imposed an arms embargo on South Africa.[28]  This was mandatory on member states and was the first occasion that action was taken against any member state under this Chapter. Western countries subsequently prevented any further sanctions from being imposed.


The role of western states

Throughout the UN’s engagement with apartheid South Africa, western states were generally opposed to the UNGA’s positions – which were led by African and Asian states – on the issue, and they therefore sought to enable and protect the apartheid state. No western state voted to establish UNCORS in 1952, and the US and other western powers ensured its demise three years later. The Special Committee Against Apartheid was the first UN committee that western powers declined to be member of. South Africa’s traditional trading partners in Europe and North America (as well as Japan) consistently voted against UNGA resolutions on South Africa. They opposed sanctions and built their relationships with the apartheid state, helping to grow the South African economy and encouraging the apartheid government to disregard UN resolutions. A change only occurred in 1976 when Sweden and Norway broke ranks and imposed sanctions.

Although the 1977 embargo was unanimously adopted by the UNSC, western states subsequently prevented any further sanctions from being adopted, on the pretext that South Africa’s cooperation was required to resolve ongoing political challenges in Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) and Namibia.

Western state support for apartheid prevailed to such an extent that many states in the Global South feared certain western countries might intervene militarily to protect the apartheid regime. This is why the UNGA declared, in December 1979, that:

All states shall solemnly pledge to refrain from overt or covert military intervention in support or defence of the Pretoria regime in its effort to repress the legitimate aspirations and struggle of the African people of South Africa… or in its threats or acts of aggression against the African states committed to the establishment of a democratic government of South Africa.[29]

American support for South Africa strengthened when Ronald Reagan was elected US president, and there was an increasingly close coalescence between US and South African government rhetoric that could not be concealed by US appeals to so-called ‘constructive engagement’. In December 1982, the UNGA specifically referred to this when it issued a resolution that expressed ‘grave concern’ about ‘the pronouncements, policies and actions of the Government of the United States of America which have provided comfort and encouragement to the racist regime of South Africa’. It also deplored ‘the actions of those Western permanent members of the Security Council that have so far prevented the Council from adopting comprehensive sanctions against the [South African] regime under Chapter VII’.[30]It was only after the July 1985 UNSC resolution that the US president announced limited measures against South Africa; twelve European governments and Japan then followed with similar measures.


Ending apartheid

During the 1980s, South Africa was rocked by uprisings, boycotts, and strikes. The apartheid state responded with massive repression, by deploying soldiers to African townships, declaring states of emergency and increasing the number of detentions without trial. By 1985, a number of major international banks had stopped issuing loans to the country and major foreign companies began to sell their South African assets. A number of western countries then became more receptive to measures against the South African government that they had previously opposed. In July 1985, a UNSC resolution urged member states to take strong action against South Africa:[31] the UK and US abstained while all other UNSC members supported it.

The UN’s World Conference on Sanctions against Racist South Africa, which was held in June 1986, strongly rejected ‘reform’ in South Africa and called for apartheid to be ‘totally uprooted and destroyed’. It also set conditions for negotiations to take place, which included all parties agreeing to eliminate apartheid; the establishment of a non-racial democratic society; the unconditional release of political prisoners; the removal of bans on political organisations; and negotiations with the genuine leaders of the oppressed.

In December 1989, the UNGA adopted a resolution that marked a turning point in the UN position. The resolution was based on the Harare Declaration,[32] which had been adopted by the OAU (Organisation of African Union) four months earlier. It called for the release of political prisoners; the removal of bans on organisations and persons; the withdrawal of troops from the townships; the repeal of security legislation; and for political trials and executions to end. It recommended the parties should enter into negotiations, and outlined a programme of action with the intention of continuing to exert pressure on South Africa.

The UN played a role in the transition process that extended from 1990 (when the ban on South African liberation organisations was lifted and most political prisoners were released) to 1994 (when the country held its first democratic election). This process was also assisted by the fact that the US and UK had begun to support the positions of other UNGA members. In July 1992, in the midst of counter-revolutionary violence and a breakdown in negotiations, the UNSC met with the South African government, the ANC the PAC and nine other political groups to find a solution. This resulted in Resolution 765 (1992), which placed responsibility on the South African government to end the violence. In 1993, following an invitation by Nelson Mandela, the UN sent an observer team to South Africa, ostensibly to monitor the programme of mass action but also to provide protection to protestors. In October 1993, two weeks after South Africa’s Transitional Executive Council was established and an election date was set, the UNGA called on states to end the oil embargo and all restrictions on economic activities with South Africa. The UN also provided 2,000 election observers for the country’s first democratic election, which was held in April 1994. On 25 May 1994, 15 days after Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s president, the UNSC officially lifted the arms embargo, the last remaining sanction; in June, the Special Committee submitted its final report to the UNGA and South Africa was then reaccepted as a UN member state.



Enuga Reddy, the acknowledged driving force behind both the Special Committee and the Centre Against Apartheid, observes that both ‘[…] became a new phenomenon in the United Nations by their emphasis on action rather than words; by introducing the concept of campaigns by the United Nations; by recognizing the need to supplement diplomatic action by efforts to organize public support; and by imaginative initiatives’.[33]

After apartheid officially ended in South Africa, the Special Committee and the Centre were shut down, as they had both been established to deal specifically with South Africa, and not with apartheid more generally. The UN first acknowledged that apartheid could exist outside this context when it issued the Convention on the Crime of Apartheid, a decade after the Committee was first established. This raises the question of what should be done to help these other victims of apartheid, including the Palestinian people. Reviving the Special Committee Against Apartheid is unlikely to be the best option as it was mandated to deal with a particular country and it could only be applied to another if its mandate was completely redefined. It therefore seems preferable for the UNGA to establish a new committee, whose mandate would be aligned with the Apartheid Convention.

But in considering the potential to lobby the UNGA in this way and role of such a committee, it is important to recognise that the wider global context is as (if not more) important than the legal context. The Special Committee Against Apartheid was established at a time when newly-independent African and Asian states were firmly committed to anti-colonial and liberation struggles; the Cold War also meant there was embedded support, in the form of Soviet support for the anti-colonial struggle and the guaranteed support of two permanent members of the UNSC.

The contemporary political context is considerably more unfavourable for Palestinians, not least because some Arab states have normalised their relations with Israel. In addition, it cannot be assumed that as many states in the Global South will automatically support the Palestinian cause, as was the case with South Africa. Further obstacles derive from the lack of sympathy and support within the UNSC – where Israel has at least one committed and often-unquestioning supporter, the US, and the fact that the Palestinian political leadership does not enjoy the same respect and esteem as its South African predecessors. All of these factors highlight the limitations of a ‘copy and paste’ approach, and demonstrate the need for Palestinians and their allies to learn from and adapt, rather than reproduce, the example of the Committee. In the Palestinian case, a deeper and more sustained engagement with strategy is required. There are a number of state allies of the Palestinian people (including South Africa, Namibia, Algeria, Cuba and Malaysia) that should be mobilised to be part of a more coordinated strategy. Such a strategy should be guided not only by the Palestinian Authority but by a combination of Palestinian political and civil society actors, and should target not only the UNGA but also the plethora of other inter-governmental fora, including the International Labor Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Criminal Court.




[1] These ‘Indians’ were not nationals of India, but South Africans of Indian origin, most of whose ancestors had been brought to South Africa by the British as indentured labourers. Apartheid legislation classified their descendants as ‘Indian’ who, under apartheid classifications, were categorised as a specific ‘racial group’ distinguished from three others: African (later ‘Black’ – most of the indigenous people of South Africa); Coloured (nine sub-categories that included some indigenous people, descendants of Bengali-Javanese-Indonesian slaves, and various other groups, including Chinese descendants); and White (mostly descendants of European settlers).

[2] UN General Assembly, Resolution 395 (V) Treatment of people of Indian origin in the Union of South Africa, 2 December 1950, (1950), https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/395(V).

[3] UN General Assembly, Resolution 616 (VII) The question of race conflict in South Africa resulting from the policies of apartheid of the Government of the Union of South Africa, 5 December 1952, (1952), https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/616(VII).

[4] UN Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, UN document A/2505: Report of the United Nations Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, (1953), http://psimg.jstor.org/fsi/img/pdf/t0/10.5555/al.sff.document.puun1953003_final.pdf.

[5] UN Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, UN document A/2719: Second Report of the United Nations Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, p. 91 (1954), https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/712139/files/A_2719-EN.pdf.

[6] UN Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, UN document A/2953: Third Report of the United Nations Commission on the racial situation in the Union of South Africa, (1955), https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/712878/files/A_2953-EN.pdf.

[7] Na’eem Jeenah, Non-violence, armed struggle and politics in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle: A Conversation with Ronnie Kasrils, (2021), https://www.academia.edu/46910606/Non_violence_armed_struggle_and_politics_in_South_Africas_anti_apartheid_struggle_A_Conversation_with_Ronnie_Kasrils.

[8] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 134 (1960) Question relating to the situation in the Union of South Africa, (1960), http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/134.

[9] United Nations General assembly, Resolution 1663 (XVI) The question of race conflict in South Africa resulting from the policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, 28 November 1961, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/1663(XVI).

[10] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 1761 (XVII) The policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, 6 November 1962, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/1761(XVII).

[11] UN Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, Second interim report of the Special Committee on the Policies of Apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa’, 17 July 1963, https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/540818.

[12] United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, Report of the Special Committee on the Policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, Annex No. 30 (A/5497)’, 16 September 1963, https://www.aluka.org/stable/10.5555/al.sff.document.scaa1963001.

[13] United Nations Security Council, Security Council resolution 181 (1963) [Policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa], 7 August 1963, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f20a30.html.

[14] See, e.g., Special Committee on the Policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, Documents /5825 and Add.1: Report of the Special Committee on the Policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa’, 23 March 1964, https://www.aluka.org/stable/pdf/10.5555/al.sff.document.scaa1964003.

[15] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 1881 (XVIIII) The policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa’, 11 October 1963, http://www.worldlii.org/int/other/UNGA/1963/1.pdf.

[16] Officially ‘Criminal Court Case No. 253/1963 (State Versus N Mandela and Others)’. In the Rivonia Trial, ten ANC leaders, led by Nelson Mandela, appeared in the dock, having mostly been arrested at the secret Johannesburg headquarters of the ANC’s armed wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe. The government originally had hoped the death penalty would be implemented, but the defendants ultimately received life imprisonment sentences. See South African History Online, Rivonia Trial 1963-1964, https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/rivonia-trial-1963-1964.

[17] For example, see United Nations Security Council, Resolution 190 (1964) Question relating to the policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, 9 June 1964, http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/190 and United Nations Security Council, Resolution 191 (1964) Question relating to the policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, 18 June 1964, http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/191.

[18] Enuga S Reddy, United Nations and the African National Congress: Partners in the Struggle against Apartheid’, (2012), https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-1894/UN-ANCarticlefinalrkop.pdf.

[19] Joseph N Garba, Opening Statement, presented at Hearing of United States student organizations against apartheid – 11 September 1987, https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-4163/PNUN11-87opt.pdf.

[20] Joseph N Garba, Opening Statement, presented at Hearing of United States student organizations against apartheid – 11 September 1987, https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-4163/PNUN11-87opt.pdf.

[21] Achkar Marof, in a message to the European Conference Against Apartheid in 1967, quoted in Enuga S Reddy, United Nations and the African National Congress: Partners in the Struggle against Apartheid’, (2012), https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-1894/UN-ANCarticlefinalrkop.pdf.

[22] UN General Assembly, Resolution 3151 (XXVIII) Policies of apartheid of the Government of South Africa, 14 December 1973, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/3151(XXVIII).

[23] Achkar Marof, The Crisis in Southern Africa with Special Reference to South Africa and Measures to be taken by the International Community, Paper presented to the International Seminar on Apartheid, Racial Discrimination and Colonialism in Southern Africa, Kitwe, Zambia, 25 July–4 August 1967.

[24] Enuga S Reddy, United Nations and the African National Congress: Partners in the Struggle against Apartheid’, (2012), https://projects.kora.matrix.msu.edu/files/210-808-1894/UN-ANCarticlefinalrkop.pdf.

[25] United Nations General Assembly, International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, (1973), https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/res/3068(XXVIII).

[26] John Dugard, Introductory note, Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid

New York, 30 November 1973, UN Audiovisual Library of International Law, (2008), https://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html.

[27] Conor Gaffey, South Africa: What You Need to Know About the Soweto Uprising 40 Years Later, Newsweek, 16 June 2016, https://www.newsweek.com/soweto-uprising-hector-pieterson-memorial-471090.

[28] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 418 (1977) South Africa, 4 November 1977, http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/418. Significantly, this resolution was proposed by Canada and West Germany.

[29] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 34/93 Policies of apartheid of the Government of South Africa’, 12 December 1977, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/34/93.

[30] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 37/69A Policies of apartheid of the Government of South Africa, 9 December 1982, p. 29, https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/37/69.

[31] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 569 (1985) South Africa, 26 July 1985, http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/569.

[32] Organization of African Unity, Harare Declaration, 21 August 1989, https://omalley.nelsonmandela.org/omalley/index.php/site/q/03lv01538/04lv01600/05lv01640/06lv01641.htm.

[33] Enuga S Reddy, United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid and Centre Against Apartheid’, 18 July 2012, https://www.sahistory.org.za/sites/default/files/Mandela%20Day%20speech%20for%20publication_1.pdf.

Na'eem Jeenah
Executive Director, Afro-Middle East Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

Na’eem Jeenah is the Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg; member of the Advisory Board of the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies; Deputy Chair of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute, part of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference; and an Advisory Board member of the Centre for Africa-China Studies. A well-known political commentator, he has also been involved in solidarity movements in South Africa. Na’eem has an MA from the University of the Witwatersrand, where he also taught Political Studies. He has numerous publications to his name, his most recent being Political Islam: Conceptualising power between ‘Islamic states’ and Muslim social movements. His other publications include: Pretending democracy: Israel, an ethnocratic state, and Journey of Discovery: A South African Hajj (with Shamima Shaikh).

Afro-Middle East Centre
Johannesburg, South Africa

Established in 1998, the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) aims to foster, produce and disseminate the highest quality of research on the Middle East, to maintain public discussion and to help shape the public discourse on issues related to the Middle East. Amec’s research includes relations between Africa and the Middle East.